Necklaces, bracelets and anklets that glow in the dark seem to be a very popular form of summer jewelry among kids of all ages. How do we know this at the Poison Control Center? Well, right around the 4th of July our phone lines start ringing with calls about them. Glow jewelry wearers (or their worried parents) want to know what makes the jewelry glow. What happens if the jewelry breaks and the "glow stuff" gets on skin or into eyes or mouths?
Here's the inside scoop on what's inside glow-in-the-dark jewelry. The glowing effect is produced by a chemical, dibutyl phthalate (pronounced di-bu-till-thal-late). It is widely used in the manufacture of plastics, glues, leather, printing inks, safety glass, dyes and as a solvent for perfume oils. Dibutyl phthalate is not a poison; it is an irritant. The best treatment for any exposure to dibutyl phthalate is water.
A splash of dibutyl phthalate to the eyes will cause immediate stinging, a burning sensation and tearing. Wash out the eyes for 15-20 minutes with water. If the discomfort persists, be sure to get medical attention.
On the skin, dibutyl phthalate causes stinging, irritation and redness. Flush the skin for 15 minutes with soap and water then apply a lotion or cream if the irritation is still present.
Swallowing dibutyl phthalate (the "glow-stuff") causes mouth and throat discomfort and soreness. Rinse the mouth several times with water, drink a cold beverage and, if discomfort remains, eat a cold snack such as ice cream or water ice.
There is no reason why you or your children should not have fun with glow jewelry. Handle the jewelry with care and, if they break, call the Poison Control Center for advice and reassurance.
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